Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Bolton Speaks: Selections from Bolton’s Interview for AI

Posted by K.E. White on February 26, 2007

One can read the entire interview by purchasing the March/April 2007 edition of The American Interest or going to their web-site and subscribing there.John Bolton

Bolton on the threat from international terrorism:

  • “I think the problem is not being able to keep people focused on the real threat. The real threat is not terror coming from already known and defined places. It’s terror combined with weapons of mass destruction in the hands of states or terrorist groups anywhere that might be inclined to use them. That doesn’t mean that the threat is not acute, and it may be growing, but it should be clear to the American people what kind of threat it actually is.
  • “I think part of the problem is that too many Americans don’t live in a climate of fear. Five years after September 11, without a subsequent attack of that size on American territory, people have been led to think the threat has disappeared. Yet we can see even now in Somalia, where elemnts of al-Qaeda tired to regroup, that the threat is still there. A rogue state or a terrorist group with weapons automatically into weapons of mass terror. And that is why the notion of preemption to make sure that attacks don’t take place in the first instance is a proper response to the kind of enviroment we face.”

Bolton on the International Criminal Court and sovereignty:

  • “This goes to an issue that is not well understood–in academic circles, certainly, but even among policy professionals in the United States and overseas–and that’s the concept of sovereignty. Sovereignty is not an abstraction, in America at least. Sovereignty is a reflection of the will of the people. In America, the people are sovereign–not a monarch or distant government. We are sovereign. So infringements on our sovereignty have a direct impact on our control over our own government and governments that deal with us. That’s what I was concerned about as much as anything: the transfer of potential authority over us without having the ability to bring it into account.”

On refusing the neoconservative label:

  • “I am not now, nor have I ever been (general laughter) a neoconservative. I remember the original definition of a neoconservative in the early Reagan days was that of a “liberal mugged by reality.”
  • “I was never a liberal. As I said, my first campaign involvement was for Barry Goldwater, back at a time when many future neoconservatives were debating the fine points of Marxism and socialism. I describe myself not as a neoconservative but as a national-interest conservative, if I can use that phrase.”
  • “I look to define and defend American interests, and to protect and expand them. I think the whole foreign policy discussion these days has gotten lost in a war of bumper-sticker-length phrases that obscure as much more than elucidate. Self-described neoconservatives can fend for themselves. I’ve awlays considered myself a realist, but I also consider myself very profoundly anti-communist. American interests and values in equal measure were and remain implicated in my anti-communism, and in my anti-totalitarianism more broadly construed, and I don’t see any inconsistency there.

On human rights:

  • “My general view is that genuine human rights are a pretty narrowly defined category, principally what today would be called political rights. Even the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights has too many “rights”, and I’m uncomfortable generally with delineating rights that themselves become entitlements. I personally prefer a narrow definition that, precisely because it’s narrow, means that preserving those rights becomes critically important….Today virtually everything is a right in a UN context, like the right to development, for example. God knows what that means. Thanks to that sort of expansion of the concept, advocates for human rights have gotten to a point where the phrase is losing its meaning. I think that’s tragic, because nothing is more important than protecting real human rights.”
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